“I was simply preparing myself mentally for what I had to do.”
Univision late night news anchor Ilia Calderón, an Afro-Colombian woman, went to Yanceyville, N.C. to interview Chris Baker, a member of the Loyal White Knights, a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. According to a preview video that has been released by Univision, Calderón had a face-to-face interview with Baker and the two were discussing his views on segragation. During the interview, Baker tells Calderón flat out that “to me, you’re a n****r. That’s it.”
“My whole team warned me that they would insult me and I knew they would insult me,” Calderón says in the video. “I knew they would disrespect me, but I never imagined the level [of disrespect].”
Calderón admits that she was prepared to be insulted and treated badly by the people she was going to interview. When Baker used the racial slur to speak to her, Calderon says in the video, that she felt scared and unsafe. María Martínez Guzmán, the Univision vice president of news, warned Calderón to stay in the car as the crew went into the home to shoot footage for the interview earlier in the day. When the crew showed up at the property, Gúzman says that she had never seen someone look at another person with such hate as those people when looking at Calderón. Calderón was also told that she is the first black person to ever set foot on Baker’s property.
This past weekend, Americans watched in shock as “alt-right” members, neo-Nazis and white nationalists descended upon Charlottesville, Virginia, attempting to spread their message of hate and intolerance. Clashes between white nationalists and counter-protesters were numerous. One counter-protester, Heather Heyer, was killed when a man rammed his car into several counter-protesters. The man, 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr., was later charged with second-degree murder. Earlier that day, he was photographed displaying the symbols of a white nationalist group called Vanguard America, which later denied he was a member.
That weekend journalist Shaun King posted a video of several men beating a 20-year-old man named Deandre Harris. King, who was attempting to confirm the identities of the men behind the beating, found that one of the men, Alex Michael Ramos, identifies as Latino. A group called the Atlanta Antifascists then tweeted that Ramos was affiliated with the Atlanta chapter of the far-right organization Proud Boys and the far-right militia called the Georgia Security Force.
In a Facebook live video that has since been deleted, Ramos claimed he wasn’t racist because he was Puerto Rican.
Credit: Anthony Michael Ramos / Facebook
When a viewer asked why he marched with racists, Ramos said, “I stood by racist people but they weren’t racist to me.” Ramos’ assertion that his Puerto Rican roots meant he couldn’t be racist is a prime example of Latinos who are completely ignorant of their ability to perpetuate white supremacy.
Guess what? Latinos, both here and in Latin America, do and say plenty of things that promote anti-blackness — and most of the time we don’t even blink an eye when it happens. When it comes to discussing racism, we often subscribe to the black vs. white binary that we often see in the United States. If our views aren’t extreme, if we’re not a “full-blown racist,” then we’re completely absolved of perpetuating anti-blackness, right? Wrong. When we think like that, we tend to ignore the colorism — often subtle — that permeates through much of Latin America. It’s a difficult thing to confront, but if we don’t address it within our own community, we can’t expect it to magically resolve itself.
Pulitzer prize-winning Dominican-American author Junot Diaz once said, “White supremacy’s greatest trick is that it has convinced people that it exists always in other people, never in us.”
Don’t believe him?
Earlier this year, Carlos Hakas, the man who angrily knocked over an elotero’s cart in Los Angeles, exclaimed, “I’m not racist, I’m from Argentina!”
Credit: Imelda Reyes / Facebook
In 2015, Univision entertainment reporter Rodner Figueroa compared Michelle Obama to a cast member of “Planet of The Apes.”
When he was fired over the comments, Figueroa wrote an open letter to Michelle Obama saying he isn’t racist because he comes from a bi-racial family.
What about last year, when Black Lives Matter was marching in the streets and you heard someone (maybe it was you) say, “Latinos need to fight for our causes, like immigration reform,” completely ignoring the fact that there are black Latinos?
Credit: Scott Olson / Getty
It doesn’t just happen in the U.S. The idea that anti-blackness is only a thing perpetuated by “white Americans” is what leads a Mexican sports newspaper to make jokes like this one, literally days after a person died in Charlottesville: